MURDER IN TRINIDAD. Fox, 1934. Nigel Bruce, Heather Angel, Victor Jory, Murray Kinnell, Douglas Walton, J. Carrol Naish, Claude King, Pat Somerset, Francis Ford, John Davidson, Noble Johnson, Paul Panzer, Ivan Simpson. Screenplay by Seton I. Miller, based on the novel by John W. Vandercook. Director: Louis King. Shown at Cinecon 44, Hollywood CA, Aug-Sept 2008.

   It’s always good to see Nigel Bruce in a starring role without his fuddy-duddy mannerisms that came to characterize his on-screen persona, especially in as nifty a crime film as this one is.

   As fond as I am of Peter Lorre’s Mr. Moto character, Fox’s first try at a film version of the Vandercook novel is superior to the later remake, Mr. Moto in Danger Island. The characters (and perhaps the film audience as well) are put off by Bruce’s casual manner on first acquaintance, but there’s a sharp intelligence behind that exterior, as his antagonists will soon learn, to their regret.

   As detective Bertram Lynch, Bruce also has a pet monkey that probably contributes to the off-putting first impression, but the monkey might be seen as a metaphor for the position Lynch ultimately puts the murderer in. One of the highlights of the weekend.

      Previously on this blog:

JOHN W. VANDERCOOK and BERTRAM LYNCH, a double profile by David Vineyard.